A Parliamentary Committee has asked Jammu and Kashmir Government to examine a demand for granting minority status to Kashmiri Pandits in view of their "pitiable condition" after they were forced to leave the Valley due to militancy.
A similar view was also expressed by Chairman of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Wajahat Habibullah, who said the state government had been advised to declare Kashmiri Pandits as minorities.
As per official data, as many as 59,442 Kashmiri Pandit families have been registered as migrants with 38,119 registered in Jammu, 19,338 in Delhi and 1,985 in rest of the country. The families had to leave Kashmir Valley in 1990's after militancy spread in various parts of the region with some of the community members also being targeted.
Tabling an Action Taken Report on 'Rehabilitation of Jammu and Kashmir Migrants' in Rajya Sabha, the 31-member Committee comprising 10 MPs from Rajya Sabha and 21 from Lok Sabha has been critical of of the Ministry of Home Affairs on various issues including providing relief, employment, housing and health care facilities. The Parliamentary panel had formed a 14-member sub-committee which went into the action taken by the Home Ministry to its recommendations made in the 137th report.
The Committee said that several representations were made by various migrant organisations asking that Kashmiri Pandits be declared as minorities. The panel said it was informed by the Union Home Ministry that the state Government's stand was that the migrants belong to Hindu religion and as such do not qualify for grant of minority status. However, the state government feels that the issue of granting minority status to the Kashmiri Pandit community needs to be examined "from all angles".
"The Committee feels that the state government has a special status in the Indian Constitution. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir should look into the demand of the Kashmiri Pandits for conferring on them minority status keeping in mind their pitiable condition," the report said. The NCM Act of 1972 does not extend to the state of Jammu and Kashmir as it is yet to be ratified by the State Assembly.
The state enjoys a special status and Central Acts do not come into force automatically till ratified by state legislature.